Here’s a weird consequence of the 2011 Fukushima disaster: Japan has ended up with enough plutonium to make thousands of nuclear bombs, and its stockpile is raising tensions. The backstory begins decades before the quake, reports the New York Times in a look at the situation: As Japan warmed to nuclear power, it announced in the 1980s it would build a recycling plant that would convert nuclear waste into nuclear fuel that would be used by its reactors. It was due to open in 1997 at a cost of $6.8 billion. Nearly 20 years after that deadline, and after three times as much has been spent, Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. says it’s still four years away from opening the plant. In the meantime, it has 47 metric tons of plutonium waiting to be processed—and a relative dearth of reactors where it could be used.
Newser 24th Sept 2018 read more »
The Environment Ministry was forced to retract its trial calculation that the ratio of nuclear power generation to Japan’s total electricity generation will be less than 10 percent in fiscal 2050. The ministry made the retraction in February in response to backlash from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is supervising the electric power industry, several sources of the two ministries said. At the time, the economy ministry was proceeding with a revision of the government’s basic energy plan. It apparently feared that the trial calculation could influence discussions on the future ratio of nuclear power generation, the sources added. After the retraction, the contents of the basic energy plan were decided as had been worked out by the economy ministry and were approved in a Cabinet meeting in July. The Abe administration regards nuclear power generation as “an important baseload electric source” and is promoting the restarts of nuclear reactors. Under the policy, the economy ministry has apparently adopted a stance of concealing data that is inconvenient for the administration. The Asahi Shimbun obtained the trial calculation, which was shown to the economy ministry by the Environment Ministry. According to the estimate, the ratio of nuclear power generation to Japan’s total electricity generation will be 21 percent in fiscal 2030 in accordance with the Abe administration’s policies. The ratio will decrease to 11 to 12 percent in fiscal 2040 and to 7 to 9 percent in fiscal 2050. In addition, the ratio of renewable energies will increase to 57 to 66 percent in fiscal 2040 and further to 72 to 80 percent in fiscal 2050.
Asahi Shimbun 24th Sept 2018 read more »